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(Russian Far East Cruise)
The expansive region bordering the Sea of Okhotsk is one of the planet’s least-explored and most remarkable destinations for untouched forests, pristine tundra, and vast amounts of wildlife. Here, you’ll find bears; Arctic foxes; a number of whale species including beluga, orca, and bowhead; basking seals and sea lions by the thousands; and millions of seabirds. Aboard a luxurious all-suite cruise ship, this Siberia expedition will take you from Kamchatka to the Kurils and then a Sea of Okhotsk tour to explore remote shores and isolated islands long closed to Westerners. Siberia adventure travelers—from birders and botanists to photographers and nature-lovers—will revel in this breathtaking environment where nature has exceeded herself, and travelers have barely started to explore. Shipboard gratuities are included in the itinerary fare.
•Discover huge concentrations of seabirds in a frenzy of breeding activity—northern fulmars, puffins, guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes, auklets, and more.
•Cruise by Zodiac along rocky islets and remote shores to search for the area’s prolific marine and wildlife—including bears, Arctic foxes, seals, whales, and the mighty Steller’s sea eagle.
•Photograph a variety of stunning scenery, from smoking, snow-capped volcanoes to wildflower-studded tundra.
•Witness the “auklet haze,” an amazing spectacle on your Siberia tour where huge flocks of whiskered auklets return to their roosts en masse as dusk falls.
•Follow in the historic wake of legendary explorer, Vitus Bering, the founder of Petropavlovsk and one of the earliest Sea of Okhotsk adventure travelers.
Cruise Departure Dates (2014):
A shared transfer will take you to your hotel for the evening.
You and your expedition mates will gather at the hotel for a welcome dinner with some of the expedition team.
The Anchorage Marriott Downtown (4*) is the only full-service, luxury hotel in Anchorage, Alaska. Guest rooms have oversized picture windows that frame striking views of downtown Anchorage, city Parkstrip, Chugach Mountain Range & Cook Inlet. This Anchorage hotel, located in the heart of the city, is within walking distance to businesses, shopping, dining, Anchorage Convention District, Performing Arts Center, Anchorage Museum & more. Guests can unwind in the indoor pool, fitness center, or whirlpool, enjoy savory fare in the Cafe Promenade, or retreat to a spacious, luxuriously appointed guestroom.
A shared transfer will take you to the airport for your flight to Petropavlovsk (flight not included).
You'll depart the airport and set out with a group guide to explore Petropavlovsk, one of the oldest towns in the Russian Far East, founded by Vitus Bering in 1741. The hospitable local guides bring you to the museum of ethnography and natural history, the art school, and the gold-domed Orthodox cathedral before proceeding to your ship in the afternoon.
Welcome aboard!Take some time to get settled in to your stateroom and to explore the length of your ship. You'll set sail shortly to begin your Siberian voyage.
Port charges are included in your itinerary pricing.
The all-suite 100-guest Caledonian Sky is a spacious, yet intimate, expedition vessel. Refurbished in 2012, her beautifully designed public spaces include a single seating dining room, a large lounge with piano, elegant bar, enclosed panoramic viewing deck, library, and gym. Outside decks feature a rear sun deck where meals are served in pleasant weather and the promenade deck is available to all travelers for scenic photography as well as wildlife and seabird viewing. All suites have an ocean view and feature a sitting room, en-suite bathroom, flat screen television, spacious wardrobes, and dressing table. Wireless internet access is available throughout the ship. For excursions ashore, the Caledonian Sky carries a fleet of Zodiacs.
Part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Kurils are composed of 40 volcanoes, 16 of which are active. This afternoon, as you cruise through the First Kuril Strait, watch for the Steller’s sea eagles that frequent the area. Past voyages have also found hundreds of sea otters frolicking in this strait—a heartening rejuvenation after a brush with near-extinction. Step ashore on Atlasova Island, dominated by the towering 7,600-foot-high Alaid Volcano. Stroll along the black sand beaches to observe the island’s fascinating geology or take a hike inland over tundra bursting with wildflowers.
Join naturalists on deck to search for seabirds and marine mammals in the Sea of Okhotsk, while lecturers introduce the region’s history and wildlife. Today is a full day at sea.
Go ashore this morning in Utkholokskiy National Park, a vast, nearly uninhabited wilderness to search for birds and wildlife, including bears that are often found foraging along the tidal flats.
The waters of Shelekova Bay are subject to extreme tides and powerful currents, bringing nutrients to the surface and supporting huge quantities of life. By Zodiac, search for whales, seals, Steller’s sea lions and tremendous numbers of birds, including puffins and murres. Some six million pairs of least auklets and large numbers of crested auklets nest on Yamskie Island. As dusk falls, witness a veritable “auklet haze,” which darkens the sky as they return to roost for the night.
Cruise along the coast of Cape Alevina to search for the bears that are attracted by the spawning salmon.
This morning explore tiny Talan Island, home to one of the largest seabird communities in the Northern Pacific, with colonies reaching 1.8 million birds—puffins, auklets, and gulls are among the 12 species found here. The island is also home to Steller’s sea eagles, peregrine falcons, and red foxes. Permission pending, visit the Russian research center where local ornithologists are monitoring the annual bird migrations.
This small town, the first to be settled in the region, was chosen by Captain Vitus Bering as his headquarters for two extraordinary expeditions. Stroll Okhotsk’s quaint streets, lined with small shops and modest clapboard houses surrounded by gardens—all seemingly frozen in the 18th century. Visit the intriguing museum and enjoy a cultural performance.
Go ashore for nature walks to explore pristine Siberian forest, keeping an eye out for Steller’s sea eagles and brown bears.
In true expeditionary fashion, spend the next two days investigating the remote Shantar region—no roads reach the coastline, isolating it from civilization. The rocky islands covered with Siberian forest are a pristine wilderness, with sea-carved caves and cliffs, cascades, and 200 bird species inviting exploration by Zodiac and walks ashore.
Watch for flocks of spectacled guillemots, which “sprint” across the water on crimson webbed feet when taking flight, as well as horned and tufted puffins diving under the waves to gorge on small fish. This area also presents a good opportunity to spot Shantar brown bears.
This remote island in the center of the Sea of Okhotsk is a wildlife sanctuary that was previously off-limits to visitors. Join naturalists aboard Zodiacs and trace the perimeter of Iony to discover huge flocks of crested, least, whiskered, and parakeet auklets; horned and tufted puffins; northern fulmars; and massive numbers of murres. There is also a large Steller’s sea lion rookery.
Today cruise along the wild coast of Sakhalin Island, as nature directs your course. Conditions permitting, go ashore for nature walks to search for Radde’s and Arctic warblers, Siberian rubythroats, and white-tailed eagles. There is also a possibility of spotting the gray whales that have been known to frequent this area.
Zodiac excursions around this tiny island reveal masses of nesting seabirds and rookeries of fur seals and Steller’s sea lions. The island’s name—Russian for seal—bears testament to its reputation as a primary destination for migrating northern fur seals and, during the 19th century, Russian and American sealers.
Dock in the port of Korsakov and depart overland for a visit to Sakhalin’s capital of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Here explore the local market, lined with vendors’ wares representing this multicultural town’s heritage of indigenous peoples such as Ainu, Oroki, and Nivkh, as well as Russians, Japanese, and Koreans. Visit the Regional Museum, the Russian Orthodox church, and enjoy a performance of Cossack music and dance.
Spend the morning at sea and after lunch, arrive in Otaru, known for its interesting interior canal lined by historic buildings. Join a tour of this charming port city, with time at leisure to explore on your own. Spend your final overnight aboard the Caledonian Sky as the ship remains pier side.
This morning you'll disembark from your ship.
A group transfer will get you to Sapporo for your scheduled flight.
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